Why Are Compound Bows so Expensive?


If you’ve been looking into archery, you will probably have noticed the often exorbitant prices of compound bows. Now, no one is saying that you must get a compound bow. Many archers are happy with their longbows and recurve bows.

But if you want the best that modern technology has to offer, you’re going to want to go with a compound. They tend to be more adjustable, have greater efficiency in the transfer of power, and can be adorned with a lot of bells and whistles to make hunting or target shooting easier.

In short, compound bows are so expensive because they are more technologically advanced than other kinds of bows. The research that bow technicians do to make them so much more intuitive as well as the increased number of components add up to the price tag you see.

If you’re truly interested in purchasing a compound bow but want to make sure your money isn’t just going down the drain, read on to understand the breakdown of compound bow pricing and make sure you know what you’re paying for.

Funding the Research Behind the Compound Bow

The materials used in the making of a compound bow are not usually contributing greatly to the price that you’re paying for the bow.

Typical materials used include carbon, aluminum, plastic, and wood, none of which are particularly pricey.

The majority of the time, you’re not paying top dollar for the physical bow you’re purchasing. You’re paying for the time, money, and effort that went into designing it.

There isn’t a lot of advanced thought required to build a typical longbow or even recurve bow. It requires skill, to be sure, but there isn’t much innovation to be done without breaking from the design entirely.

If longbows and recurve bows are the first Model T car, then compound bows are the Tesla cruising down the freeway with LED headlights and retractable door handles.

What started as a simple device became a high-powered machine capable of doing more than one thing.

This is the evolutionary journey that resulted in the compound bow, and the technicians behind it are reaping the rewards of their research by way of the eager and forward-thinking archer.

The best bows that money can buy are called flagship bows because the manufacturing companies that produce them are working hard to keep putting out bows with the latest and greatest technology available to us.

You don’t get access to the latest technology without taking a hit to your savings, but if you’re a hard-core hunter or range archer, the ability to shoot the perfect shot is priceless.

After all the thinking is done, there’s still the process to complete. Here again, it’s not necessarily the material you’re paying for, but the process the material must go through to assemble the perfect bow.

Those aluminum parts, whether they be the riser or the limbs, must go through the factory to be shaped through a myriad of techniques including but not limited to casting, milling, and machining.

Even after they’re properly shaped, they must be refined to remove burrs and other imperfections and often dipped in a film, depending on the type.

The hardware that holds the parts of your bow together must then be brought in, having been fabricated in the same establishment or elsewhere.

Once all the pieces have been made, the actual assembly can begin, and by the time your bow is pieced together, packaged, and shipped, months will have passed.

If this process includes any outsourcing, which is an option many compound bow producers utilize, the third party that contributed to the manufacture of your bow must also be paid.

In summary, each hand that your bow passed through must be paid, and it’s likely that it passed through a lot of hands.

The Expensive Parts of the Bow

All that research we discussed has led to some technological advances that set the compound bow apart from the rest of the bow family. One of those advances is the cam.

The compound bow gets its name from the compounding of several different machine processes that contribute to an overall mechanical advantage.

The cams are a major part of that mechanical advantage.

Though there are now many different kinds, the cam can be generally defined as a flat, circular piece of metal around which the string travels to convert rotary motion into linear motion.

Without getting into a full physics lesson, we can understand why this is a better system than is used in a traditional bow.

Ultimately, the assistance of the cams allows the energy you transfer into your bow by pulling back on the string to be stored more efficiently.

They also create a let-off that provides a great deal of stress release from the archer’s arms, holding all the stress between the cams and transferring it cleanly to the arrow when you’re ready to release.

This is a pretty revolutionary innovation in the world of archery, which previously relied on a hunter’s strength to pull back the string with enough force to send the arrow into the target and hold it back long enough to aim.

As mentioned previously, there are several different kinds of cams available to use on a compound bow.

The Single Cam, Solocam, or One Cam design actually involves two cams but of different shapes, one being rounded and the other more like an oval. This is called the power cam. Some prefer its simplicity, but it has been known to provide less nock accuracy.

Hybrid Cams are both oval or elliptical shaped and are asymmetrical. The top is a control cam, the bottom a power cam. This cam system proves better nock travel and more synchronization than the Single Cam.

The Twin Cam is similar to the Hybrid Cam system, only with the elliptical cams being symmetrical to one another. On average, it requires more maintenance than the Hybrid Cam system but is praised for its ability to fully synchronize, improving accuracy, nock travel, and speed.

The popular Binary Cam system was introduced by BowTech in 2005 and utilizes three-groove twin cams that are slaved to one another rather than the bow’s limbs, lowering the number of necessary strings to two. Many people prefer the free floating nature of the strings and the speed it offers.

These brief summaries of cam systems cannot properly convey the complex process that goes into designing, manufacturing, and producing them, but hopefully, they have given you some insight into why these particular elements of the compound bow may inflate the price.

Funding That Camouflage Design

It’s easy to overlook the cool camouflage design with colored accents that you opt for when thinking about the price of the bow, but it certainly factors in.

Companies like Mossy Oak and Realtree have become popularized for their desirable bow designs, but they don’t get those designs and patterns for free.

It’s easy to tell when a company has chosen to go with a cheap design or a more affordable paint job. It simply doesn’t look good.

There are royalties involved in using a well-done camouflage pattern, and if the bow manufacturers want to sell their product, they are going to go with the more high-end pattern.

Despite their claims to not place a value on aesthetics, hunters and outdoorsmen want to look cool too.

Know Your Compound Bow Manufacturers’ Rates

Most quality compound bows are going to cost you a pretty penny, but don’t be deceived! There are more affordable options out there that can satisfy your needs.

Companies like Hoyt, BowTech, and Mathews are the dominating brands in luxury bows, so if you’re looking to save a few bucks, avoid falling in love with one of their models.

Brands like Diamond Archery, Bear Archery, and Predator Archery offer a variety of shootable bows under $500.

You’re also not limited to buying brand new compound bows. There are plenty of quality bows to be found on eBay and other second-hand sites.

This is an especially good option if you’re new to the sport and won’t be able to tell the difference between a $300 and $1000 bow anyway.

Havilah Halcyon

I am a copywriter from Portland, Oregon. I love all outdoor things but have a special proclivity for rock climbing. Best movie of all time: A Knight's Tale.

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